Daniel - 4:1-37

The Tree Vision of Nebuchadnezzar

      1 Nebuchadnezzar the king, to all the peoples, nations, and languages, who dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you. 2 It has seemed good to me to show the signs and wonders that the Most High God has worked toward me. 3 How great are his signs! and how mighty are his wonders! his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his dominion is from generation to generation. 4 I, Nebuchadnezzar, was at rest in my house, and flourishing in my palace. 5 I saw a dream which made me afraid; and the thoughts on my bed and the visions of my head troubled me. 6 Therefore made I a decree to bring in all the wise men of Babylon before me, that they might make known to me the interpretation of the dream. 7 Then came in the magicians, the enchanters, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers; and I told the dream before them; but they did not make known to me its interpretation. 8 But at the last Daniel came in before me, whose name was Belteshazzar, according to the name of my god, and in whom is the spirit of the holy gods: and I told the dream before him, (saying), 9 Belteshazzar, master of the magicians, because I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you, and no secret troubles you, tell me the visions of my dream that I have seen, and its interpretation. 10 Thus were the visions of my head on my bed: I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth; and its height was great. 11 The tree grew, and was strong, and its height reached to the sky, and its sight to the end of all the earth. 12 The leaves of it were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all: the animals of the field had shadow under it, and the birds of the sky lived in its branches, and all flesh was fed from it. 13 I saw in the visions of my head on my bed, and behold, a watcher and a holy one came down from the sky. 14 He cried aloud, and said thus, Cut down the tree, and cut off its branches, shake off its leaves, and scatter its fruit: let the animals get away from under it, and the fowls from its branches. 15 Nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field; and let it be wet with the dew of the sky: and let his portion be with the animals in the grass of the earth: 16 let his heart be changed from man's, and let an animal's heart be given to him; and let seven times pass over him. 17 The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones; to the intent that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will, and sets up over it the lowest of men. 18 This dream I, king Nebuchadnezzar, have seen; and you, Belteshazzar, declare the interpretation, because all the wise men of my kingdom are not able to make known to me the interpretation; but you are able; for the spirit of the holy gods is in you. 19 Then Daniel, whose name was Belteshazzar, was stricken mute for a while, and his thoughts troubled him. The king answered, Belteshazzar, don't let the dream, or the interpretation, trouble you. Belteshazzar answered, My lord, the dream be to those who hate you, and its interpretation to your adversaries. 20 The tree that you saw, which grew, and was strong, whose height reached to the sky, and its sight to all the earth; 21 whose leaves were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all; under which the animals of the field lived, and on whose branches the birds of the sky had their habitation: 22 it is you, O king, that are grown and become strong; for your greatness is grown, and reaches to the sky, and your dominion to the end of the earth. 23 Whereas the king saw a watcher and a holy one coming down from the sky, and saying, Cut down the tree, and destroy it; nevertheless leave the stump of its roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass, in the tender grass of the field, and let it be wet with the dew of the sky: and let his portion be with the animals of the field, until seven times pass over him; 24 this is the interpretation, O king, and it is the decree of the Most High, which is come on my lord the king: 25 that you shall be driven from men, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field, and you shall be made to eat grass as oxen, and shall be wet with the dew of the sky, and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will. 26 Whereas they commanded to leave the stump of the roots of the tree; your kingdom shall be sure to you, after that you shall have known that the heavens do rule. 27 Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you, and break off your sins by righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the poor; if there may be a lengthening of your tranquility. 28 All this came on the king Nebuchadnezzar. 29 At the end of twelve months he was walking in the royal palace of Babylon. 30 The king spoke and said, Is not this great Babylon, which I have built for the royal dwelling place, by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty? 31 While the word was in the king's mouth, there fell a voice from the sky, (saying), O king Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: The kingdom has departed from you: 32 and you shall be driven from men; and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field; you shall be made to eat grass as oxen; and seven times shall pass over you; until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever he will. 33 The same hour was the thing fulfilled on Nebuchadnezzar: and he was driven from men, and ate grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of the sky, until his hair was grown like eagles' (feathers), and his nails like birds' (claws). 34 At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted up my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and I praised and honored him who lives forever; for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom from generation to generation. 35 All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or ask him, What are you doing? 36 At the same time my understanding returned to me; and for the glory of my kingdom, my majesty and brightness returned to me; and my counselors and my lords sought to me; and I was established in my kingdom, and excellent greatness was added to me. 37 Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven; for all his works are truth, and his ways justice; and those who walk in pride he is able to abase.

Chapter In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of Daniel 4.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

Section I - Authenticity of the Chapter
To the authenticity of this chapter, as to the preceding, objections and difficulties have been urged, sufficient, in the view of the objectors, to destroy its credibility as a historical narrative. Those objections, which may be seen at length in Bertholdt (pp. 70-72, 285-309), Bleek ("Theol. Zeitscrift, Drittes Heft," 268, following.), and Eichhorn ("Einlei." iv. 471, following.), relate mainly to two points - those derived from the want of historical proofs to confirm the narrative, and those derived from its alleged intrinsic improbability.
I. The former of these, derived from the want of historic confirmation of the truth of the narrative, are summarily the following:
(1) That the historical books of the Old Testament give no intimation that these remarkable things happened to Nebuchadnezzar, that he was deranged and driven from his throne, and made to dwell under the open heaven with the beasts of the field - an omission which, it is said, we cannot suppose would have occurred if these things had happened, since the Hebrew writers, on account of the wrongs which Nebuchadnezzar had done to their nation, would have certainly seized on such facts as a demonstration of the Divine displeasure against him.
(2) There is no record of these events among the pagan writers of antiquity; no writer among the Greeks, or other nations, ever having mentioned them.
(3) It is equally remarkable that Josephus, in his narrative of the sickness of Nebuchadnezzar, makes no allusion to any knowledge of this among other nations, and shows that he derived his information only from the sacred books of his own people.
(4) It is acknowledged by Origen and Jerome that they could find no historical grounds for the truth of this account.
(5) If these things had occurred, as here related, they would not have been thus concealed, for the king himself took all possible measures, by the edict referred to in this chapter, to make them known, and to make a permanent record of them. How could it have happened that all knowledge would have been lost if they had thus occurred?
(6) if the edict was lost, how was it ever recovered again? When, and where, and by whom, was it found? If actually issued, it was designed to make the case known throughout the empire. Why did it fail of producing that effect so as not to have been forgotten? If it was lost, how was the event known? And if it was lost, how could it have been recovered and recorded by the author of this book? Compare Bertholdt, p. 298.
To these objections, it maybe replied,
(1) That the silence of the historical books of the Old Testament furnishes no well-founded objection to what is said in this chapter, for none of them pretend to bring down the history of Nebuchadnezzar to the close of his life, or to this period of his life. The books of Kings and of Chronicles mention his invasion of the land of Palestine and of Egypt; they record the fact of his carrying away the children of Israel to Babylon, but they do not profess to make any record of what occurred to him after that, nor of the close of his life. The second book of Chronicles closes with an account of the removal of the Jews to Babylon, and the carrying away of the sacred vessels of the temple, and the burning of the temple, and the destruction of the city, but does not relate the history of Nebuchadnezzar any farther, 2 Chr. 36. The silence of the book cannot, therefore, be alleged as an argument against anything that may be said to have occurred after that. As the history closes there; as the design was to give a record of Jewish affairs to the carrying away to Babylon, and not a history of Nebuchadnezzar as such, there is no ground of objection furnished by this silence in regard to anything that might be said to have occurred to Nebuchadnezzar subsequently to this in his own kingdom.
(2) In regard to profane writers, also, nothing can be argued as to the improbability of the account mentioned here from their silence on the subject. It is not remarkable that in the few fragments which are found in their writings respecting the kings and empires of the East, an occurrence of this kind should have been omitted. The general worthlessness or want of value of the historical writings of the Greeks in respect to foreign nations, from which we derive most of our knowledge of those nations, is now generally admitted, and is expressly maintained by Niebuhr, and by Schlosser (see Hengstenberg, "Die Authentic des Daniel," p. 101), and most of these writers make no allusion at all to Nebuchadnezzar. Even Herodotus, who traveled into the East, and who collected all he could of the history of the world, makes no mention whatever of a conqueror so illustrious as Nebuchadnezzar. How could it be expected that when they have omitted all notice of his conquests, of the great events under him, which exerted so important an effect on the world, there should have been a record of an occurrence like that referred to in this chapter - an occurrence that seems to have exerted no influence whatever on the foreign relations of the empire?
It is remarkable that Josephus, who searched for all that he could find to illustrate the literature and history of the Chaldees, says ("Ant." b. x. ch. xi. Section 1) that he could find only the following "histories as all that he had met with concerning this king: Berosus, in the third book of his Chaldaic history; Philostratus, in the history of Judea and of the Phoenicians, who only mentions him in respect to his siege of Tyre; the Indian history of Megasthenes - Ἰνδικά Indika - in which the only fact which is mentioned of him is that he plundered Libya and Iberia; and the Persian history of Diocles, in which there occurs but one solitary reference to Nebuchadnezzar." To these he adds, in his work "against Apion" (b. i. 20), a reference to the "Archives of the Phoenicians," in which it is said that "he conquered Syria and Phoenicia." Berosus is the only one who pretends to give any extended account of him.
See "Ant." b. x. ch. 11: Section 1. All those authorities mentioned by Josephus, therefore, except Berosus, may be set aside, since they have made no allusion to many undeniable facts in the life of Nebuchadnezzar, and, therefore, the events referred to in this chapter may have occurred, though they have not related them. There remain two authors who have noticed Nebuchadnezzar at greater length, Abydenus and Berosus. Abydenus was a Greek who lived 268 b.c. He wrote, in Greek, a historical account of the Chaldeans, Babylonians, and Assyrians, only a few fragments of which have been preserved by Eusebins, Cyrill, and Syncellus. Berosus was a Chaldean, and was a priest in the temple of Belus, in the time of Alexander, and having learned of the Macedonians the Greek language, he went to Greece, and opened a school of astronomy and astrology in the island of Cos, where his productions acquired for him great fame with the Athenians. Abydenus was his pupil. Berosus wrote three books relative to the history of the Chaldeans, of which only some fragments are preserved in Josephus and Eusebius. As a priest of Belus he possessed every advantage which could be desired for obtaining a knowledge of the Chaldeans, and if his work had been preserved it would doubtless be of great value. Both these writers professedly derived their knowledge from the traditions of the Chaldeans, and both should be regarded as good authority.
Berosus is adduced by Josephus to confirm the truth of the historical records in the Old Testament. He mentions, according to Josephus, the deluge in the time of Noah, and the account of the resting of the ark on one of the mountains of Armenia. He gives a catalogue of the descendants of Noah, and "at length comes down to Nabolassar, who was king of Babylon and of the Chaldeans." He then mentions the expedition of his son, Nabuchodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar), against the Egyptians; the capture of Jerusalem; the burning of the temple; and the removal of the Jews to Babylon. He then mentions the manner in which Nebuchadnezzar succeeded to the throne; the way in which he distributed his captives in various parts of Babylonia; his adorning of the temple of Belus; his re-building the old city of Babylon, and the building of another city on the other side of the river; his adding a new palace to what his father had built; and the fact that this palace was finished in fifteen days. After these statements respecting his conquests and the magnificence of his capital, Berosus gives the following narrative: "Nabuchodonosor, after he had begun to build the aforementioned wall, fell sick - ἐμπεσὼν είς ἀῤῥωστίαν empesōn eis arrōstian - and departed this life - μετηλλάξατο τὸν βίον metēllaxato ton bion - (a phrase meaning to die, see Passow on the word μεταλλάσσω metallassō) "when he had reigned forty-three years, whereupon his son Evil-Merodach, obtained the kingdom." Josephus against Apion, b. 1, section 20. Now this narrative is remarkable, and goes in fact to confirm the statement in Daniel in two respects:
(a) It is manifest that Berosus here refers to some sickness in the case of Nebuchadnezzar that was unusual, and that probably preceded, for a considerable time, his death. This appears from the fact, that in the case of the other monarchs whom he mentions in immediate connection with this narrative, no sickness is alluded to as preceding their death. This is the case with respect to Neriglissar and Nabonnedus - successors of Nebuchadnezzar. See Joshua. "against Ap." i. 20. There is no improbability in supposing, that what Berosus here calls "sickness" is the same which is referred to in the chapter before us. Berosus, himself a Chaldean, might not be desirous of stating all the facts about a monarch of his own country so distinguished, and might not be willing to state all that he knew about his being deprived of reason, and about the manner in which he was treated, and yet what occurred to him was so remarkable, and was so well known, that there seemed to be a necessity of alluding to it in some way; and this he did in the most general manner possible. If this were his object, also, he would not be likely to mention the fact that he was restored again to the throne. He would endeavor to make it appear as an ordinary event - a sickness which preceded death - as it "may" have been the fact that he never was wholly restored so far as to be in perfect health.
(b) This statement of Berosus accords, in respect to "time," remarkably with that in Daniel. Both accounts agree that the sickness occurred after he had built Babylon, and toward the close of his reign.
The other author which is referred to is Abydenus. The record which he makes is preserved by Eusebius, praep. Evang. ix. 41, and Chronicon Armenolatinum, I. p. 59, and is in the following words:
μετὰ ταῦτα δὲ, λέγεται πρὸς Χαλδαίων, ὡς ἀναβὰς ἐπὶ τὰ βασιλήΐα, κατασχεθείη θεῷ ὅτεῳ δὴ, φθεγξάμενος δὲ εἶπεν; οὖτος ἐγὼ Ναβουκοδρόσορος, ὦ Βαβυλώνιοι, τὴν μέλλουσαν ὑμῖν προαγγέλλω συμφορὴν, τὴν ὅτε Βῆλος ἐμός πρόγονος, ἥ τε βασίλεια Βῆλτις ἀποτρέψαι Μοίρας πεῖσαι ἀσθενοῦσιν; ἥξες Πέρσης ἡμίονος, τοῖσιν ὑμετέροισι δαίμοσι χρεώμενος αυμμάχοισιν; ἐπάξει δὲ δουλοσύνην; ου δὴ συναίτιος ἔσται Μήδης, τὸ Ἀσσύριον αὔχημα; ὡς εἴθε μιν πρόσθεν ἤ δοῦναι τοὺς πολιήτας, Χάρυβδίν τινα, ἤ θάλασσαν εἰσδεξαμένην, ἀΐστῶσαι πρόῤῥιζον; ἤ μιν ἄλλας ὁδοὺς στραφέντα φέρεσθαι διὰ τῆς ἐρήμου, ἵνα οὔτε ἄστεα, οὔτε πάτος ἀνθρώπων, θῆρες δὲ νόμον ἔχουσι, καὶ ὄρνιθες πλάζονται, ἔν τε πέτρῃσι καὶ χαράδρῃσι μοῦνον ἁλώμενον; ἐμέ τε, πρὶν εἰς νόον βαλέσθαι ταῦτα, τέλεος ἀμείνονος κυρῆσαι. Ὁ μὲν θεσπίσας παραχρῆμα ἠφάνιστο.
Meta tauta de, legetai pros Chaldaiōn, hōs anabas epi ta basilēia, kataschetheiē theō hoseō dē, phthengxamenos de eipen; ousos egō Naboukodrosoros, ō Babulōnioi, tēn mellousan humin proangellō sumphorēn, tēn hote Bēlos emos progonos, hē te basileia Bēltis apotrepsai Moiras peisai asthenousin; hēxei Persēs hēmionos, toisin humeteroisi daimosi chreōmenos summachoisin; epaxei de doulosunēn; hou dē sunaitios estai Mēdēs, to Assurion auchēma; hōs eithe min prosthen ē dounai tous poliētas, Charubdin tina, ē thalassan eisdexamenēn, aistōsai prorrizon; ē min allas hodous straphenta pheresthai dia tēs erēmou, hina oute astea, oute patos; anthrōpōn, thēres de nomon echousi, kai ornithes plazontai, en te petrēsi kai charadrēsi mounon halōmenon; eme te, prin eis nōn balesthai tauta, teleos ameinonos kurēsai. Ho men thespissas parachrēma ēphanisto.
This passage is so remarkable that I annex a translation of it, as I find it in Prof. Stuart's work on Daniel, p. 122: "After these things" (his conquests which the writer had before referred to), "as it is said by the Chaldeans, having ascended his palace, he was seized by some god, and speaking aloud, he said: 'I, Nebuchadnezzar, O Babylonians, foretell your future calamity, which neither Belus, my ancestor, nor queen Beltis, can persuade the destinies to avert. A "Persian mule" will come, employing your own divinities as his auxiliaries; and he will impose servitude (upon you). His coadjutor will be the "Mede," who is the boast of the Assyrians. Would that, before he places my citizens in such a condition, some Charybdis or gulf might swallow him up with utter destruction! Or that, turned in a different direction, he might roam in the desert (where are neither cities, nor footsteps of man, but wild beasts find pasturage, and the birds wander), being there hemmed in by rocks and ravines! May it be my lot to attain to a better end, before such things come into his mind!' Having uttered this prediction, he immediately disappeared." This passage so strongly resembles the account in Daniel. 4, that even Bertholdt (p. 296) admits that it is identical (identisch) with it, though he still maintains, that although it refers to mental derangement, it does nothing to confirm the account of his being made to live with wild beasts, eating grass, and being restored again to his throne. The points of "agreement" in the account of Abydenus and that of Daniel are the following:
(1) The account of Abydenus, as Bertholdt admits, refers to mental derangement. Such a mental derangement, and the power of prophecy, were in the view of the ancients closely connected, or were identical, and were believed to be produced by the overpowering influence of the gods on the soul. The rational powers of the soul were supposed to be suspended, and the god took entire possession of the body, and through that communicated the knowledge of future events. Compare Dale, "de Oraculis Ethnicorum," p. 172. Eusebius, "Chr. Arm.- lat.," p. 61. In itself considered, moreover, nothing would be more natural than that Nebuchadnezzar, in the malady that came upon him, or when it was coming upon him, would express himself in the manner affirmed by Abydenus respecting the coming of the Persian, and the change that would occur to his own kingdom. If the account in Daniel is true respecting the predictions which he is said to have uttered concerning coming events Daniel. 2, nothing would be more natural than that the mind of the monarch would be filled with the anticipation of these events, and that he would give utterance to his anticipations in a time of mental excitement.
(2) there is a remarkable agreement between Abydenus and Daniel in regard to the "time" and the "place" in which what is said of the king occurred. According to Abydenus, the prophetic ecstasy into which he fell was at the close of all his military expeditions, and occurred in the same place, and in the same circumstances, which are mentioned in the book of Daniel - upon his palace - apparently as he walked upon the roof, or upon some place where he had a clear view of the surrounding city which he had built - ἀναβὰς ἐπὶ τὰ βασιλήΐα anabas epi ta basileia.
(3) The accounts in Abydenus and in Daniel harmonize so far as they relate to the God by whom what occurred was produced. In Daniel it is attributed to the true God, and not to any of the objects of Chaldean worship. It is remarkable that in Abydenus it is not ascribed to an idol, or to any god worshipped by the Chaldees, but to God simply, as to a God that was not known - κατασχεθείη θεῷ ὅτεῳ δὴ kataschetheiē Theō hoseō dē. It would seem from this that even the Chaldee tradition did not attribute what was said by Nebuchadnezzar, or what occurred to him, to any of the gods worshipped in Babylon, but to a foreign god, or to one whom they were not accustomed to worship.
(4) In the language which Nebuchadnezzar is reported by Abydenus to have used respecting the return of the Persian king after his conquest, there is a remarkable resemblance to what is said in Daniel, showing that, though the language is applied to different things in Daniel and in Abydenus, it had a common origin. Thus, in the prophecy of Nebuchadnezzar, as reported by Abydenus, it is said, "may he, returning through other ways, be borne through the desert where there are no cities, where there is no path for men, where wild beasts graze, and the fowls live, wandering about in the midst of rocks and caves." These considerations show that the Chaldean traditions strongly corroborate the account here; or, that there are things in these traditions which cannot be accounted for except on the supposition of the truth of some such occurrence as what is here stated in Daniel. The sum of the evidence from history is
(a) that very few things are known of this monarch from profane history;
(b) that there is nothing in what is known of him which makes what is here stated improbable;
(c) that there are things related of him which harmonize with what is here affirmed; and
(d) that there are traditions which can be best explained by some such supposition as that the record in this chapter is true.
As to the objection that if the edict was promulgated it would not be likely to be lost, or the memory of it fade away, it is sufficient to observe that almost "all" of the edicts, the laws, and the statutes of the Assyrian and Chaldean princes have perished with all the other records of their history, and almost all the facts pertaining to the personal or the public history of these monarchs are now unknown. It cannot be believed that the few fragments which we now have of their writings are all that were ever composed, and in the thing itself there is no more improbability that "this" edict should be lost than any other, or that though it may have been kept by a Hebrew residing among them, it should not have been retained by the Chaldeans themselves. As to the question which has been asked, if this were lost how it could have been recovered again, it is sufficient to remark that, for anything that appears, it never "was" lost in the sense that no one had it in his possession. It would undoubtedly come into the hands of Daniel if he were, according to the account in his book, then in Babylon; and it is not probable that so remarkable a document would be suffered by "him" to be lost. The fact that it was preserved by him is all that is needful to answer the questions on that point. It "may" have been swept away with other matters in the ruin that came upon the Chaldean records in their own country; it has been preserved where it was most important that it should be preserved - in a book where it would be to all ages, and in all lands, a signal proof that God reigns over kings, and that he has power to humble and abase the proud.
II. There is a second class of objections to the credibility of the account in this chapter quite distinct from that just noticed. They are based on what is alleged to be the intrinsic "improbability" that the things which are said to have occurred to Nebuchadnezzar should have happened. It cannot be alleged, indeed, that it is incredible that a monarch should become a maniac - for the kings of the earth are no more exempt from this terrible malady than their subjects; but the objections here referred to relate to the statements respecting the manner in which it is said that this monarch was treated, and that he lived during this long period. These objections may be briefly noticed.
(1) It has been objected, that it is wholly improbable that a monarch at the head of such an empire would, if he became incapable of administering the affairs of government, be so utterly neglected as the representation here would imply: that he would be suffered to wander from his palace to live with beasts; to fare as they fared, and to become in his whole appearance so "like" a beast. It is indeed admitted by those who make this objection, that there is no improbability that the calamity would befall a king as well as other men; and Michaelis has remarked that it is even more probable that a monarch would he thus afflicted than others ("Anm. Z. Daniel." p. 41; compare Bertholdt, p. 304), but it is alleged that it is wholly improbable that one so high in office and in power would be treated with the utter neglect which is stated here. "Is it credible," says Bertholdt (p. 300-303), "that the royal family, and the royal counselors, should have shown so little care or concern for a monarch who had come into a state so perfectly helpless? Would no one have sought him out, and brought him back, if he had wandered so far away? Could he anywhere in the open plains, and the regions about Babylon, destitute of forests, have concealed himself so that no one could have found him? It could only have been by a miracle, that one could have wandered about for so long a time, amidst the dangers which must have befallen him, without having been destroyed by wild beasts, or falling into some form of irrecoverable ruin. What an unwise policy in a government to exhibit to a newly-conquered people so dishonorable a spectacle!"
To this objection it may be replied,
(a) That its force, as it was formerly urged, may be somewhat removed by a correct interpretation of the chapter, and a more accurate knowledge of the disease which came upon the king, and of the manner in which he was actually treated. According to some views formerly entertained respecting the nature of the malady, it would have been impossible, I admit, to have defended the narrative. In respect to these views, see the notes at Daniel 4:25. It "may" appear, from the fair interpretation of the whole narrative, that nothing more occurred than was natural in the circumstances.
(b) The supposition that he was left to wander without any kind of oversight or guardianship is entirely gratuitous, and is unauthorized by the account which Nebuchadnezzar gives of what occurred. This opinion has been partly formed from a false interpretation of the phrase in Daniel 4:36 - "and my counselers and my lords sought unto me" - as if they had sought him when he was wandering, with a view to find out where he was; whereas the true meaning of that passage is, that "after" his restoration they sought unto him, or applied to him as the head of the empire, as they had formerly done.
(c) There is some probability from the passage in Daniel 4:15 - "leave the stump of his roots in the earth, even with a band of iron and brass" - that Nebuchadnezzar was secured in the manner in which maniacs often have been, and that in his rage he was carefully guarded from all danger of injuring himself. See the notes at Daniel 4:15.
(d) On the supposition that he was not, still there might have been all proper "care" taken to guard him. All that may be implied when it is said that he "was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen," etc., may have been that this was his "propensity" in that state; that he had this roving disposition, and was disposed rather to wander in fields and groves than to dwell in the abodes of men; and that he was driven "by this propensity," not "by men," to leave his palace, and to take up his residence in parks or groves - anywhere rather than in human habitations. This has been not an uncommon propensity with maniacs, and there is no improbability in supposing that this was permitted by those who had the care of him, as far as was consistent with his safety, and with what was due to him as a monarch, though his reason was driven from its throne. In the parks attached to the palace; in the large pleasure-grounds, that were not improbably stocked with various kinds of animals, as a sort of royal menagerie, there is no improbability in supposing that he may have been allowed at proper times, and with suitable guards, to roam, nor that the fallen and humbled monarch may have found, in comparatively lucid intervals, a degree of pleasant amusement in such grounds, nor even that it might be supposed that this would contribute to his restoration to health.
Nor, on "any" supposition in regard to these statements, even admitting that there was a great degree of criminal inattention on the part of his friends, would his treatment have been worse than what has usually occurred in respect to the insane. Up to quite a recent period, and even now in many civilized lands, the insane have been treated with the most gross neglect, and with the severest cruelty, even by their friends. Left to wander where they chose without a protector; unshaven and unwashed; the sport of the idle and the vicious; thrown into common jails among felons; bound with heavy chains to the cold walls of dungeons; confined in cellars or garrets with no fire in the coldest weather; with insufficient clothing, perhaps entirely naked, and in the midst of the most disgusting filth - such treatment, even in Christian lands, and by Christian people, may show that in a pagan land, five hundred years before the light of Christianity dawned upon the world, it is not "wholly" incredible that an insane monarch "might" have been treated in the manner described in this chapter.
If the best friends now may so neglect, or treat with such severity, an insane son or daughter, there is no improbability in supposing that in an age of comparative barbarism there may have been as "little" humanity as is implied in this chapter. The following extracts from the Second Annual Report of the Prison Discipline Society ("Boston") will show what has occurred in the nineteenth century, in this Christian land, and in the old commonwealth of Massachusetts - a commonwealth distinguished for morals, and for humane feeling - and will demonstrate at the same time that what is here stated about the monarch of pagan Babylon is not unworthy of belief. They refer to the treatment of lunatics in that commonwealth before the establishment of the hospital for the insane at Worcester. "In Massachusetts, by an examination made with care, about thirty lunatics have been found in prison. In one prison were found three; in another five; in another six; and in another ten. It is a source of great complaint with the sheriffs and jailers that they must receive such persons, because they have no suitable accommodations for them. Of those last mentioned, one was found in an apartment in which he had been nine years. He had a wreath of rags around his body, and another around his neck. This was all his clothing. He had no bed, chair, or bench. Two or three: rough planks were strewed around the room; a heap of filthy straw, like the nest of swine, was in the corner. He had built a bird's nest of mud in the iron grate of his den. Connected with his wretched apartment was a dark dungeon, having no orifice for the admission of light, heat, or air, except the iron door, about two and a half feet square, opening into it from the prison.
The other lunatics in the same prison were scattered about in different apartments, with thieves and murderers, and persons under arrest, but not yet convicted of guilt. In the prison of five lunatics, they were confined in separate cells, which were almost dark dungeons. It was difficult after the door was open to see them distinctly. The ventilation was so incomplete that more than one person on entering them has found the air so fetid as to produce nausea, and almost vomiting. The old straw on which they were laid, and their filthy garments, were such as to make their insanity more hopeless; and at one time it was not considered within the province of the physician to examine particularly the condition of the lunatics. In these circumstances any improvement of their minds could hardly be expected. Instead of having three out of four restored to reason, as is the fact in some of the favored lunatic asylums, it is to be feared that in these circumstances some who might otherwise be restored would become incurable, and that others might lose their lives, to say nothing of present suffering.
In the prison in which were six lunatics their condition was less wretched. But they were sometimes an annoyance, and sometimes a sport to the convicts; and even the apartment in which the females were confined opened into the yard of the men; there was an injurious interchange of obscenity and profanity between them, which was not restrained by the presence of the keeper. In the prison, or house of correction, so called, in which were ten lunatics, two were found about seventy years of age, a male and female, in the same apartment of an upper story. The female was lying upon a heap of straw under a broken window. The snow in a severe storm was beating through the window, and lay upon the straw around her withered body, which was partially covered with a few filthy and tattered garments. The man was lying in the corner of the room in a similar situation, except that he was less exposed to the storm.
The former had been in this apartment six, and the latter twenty-one years. Another lunatic in the same prison was found in a plank apartment of the first story, where he had been eight years. During this time he had never left the room but twice. The door of this apartment had not been opened in eighteen months. The food was furnished through a small orifice in the door. The room was warmed by no fire; and still the woman of the house said 'he had never froze.' As he was seen through the orifice of the door, the first question was, 'Is that a human being?' The hair was gone from one side of his head, and his eyes were like balls of fire. In the cellar of the same prison were five lunatics. The windows of this cellar were no defense against the storm, and, as might be supposed, the woman of the house said, 'We have a sight to do to keep them from freezing.' There was no fire in this cellar which could be felt by four of these lunatics.
One of the five had a little fire of turf in an apartment of the cellar by herself. She was, however, infuriate, if any one came near her. The woman was committed to this cellar seventeen years ago. The apartments are about six feet by eight. They are made of coarse plank, and have an orifice in the door for the admission of light and air, about six inches by four. The darkness was such in two of these apartments that nothing could be seen by looking through the orifice in the door. At the same time there was a poor lunatic in each. A man who has grown old was committed to one of them in 1810, and had lived in it seventeen years. An emaciated female was found in a similar apartment, in the dark, without fire, almost without covering, where she had been nearly two years. A colored woman in another, in which she had been six years; and a miserable man in another, in which he had been four years."
(2) It is asked by Bertholdt, as an objection (p. 301), whether "it is credible that one who had been for so long a time a maniac would be restored again to the throne; and whether the government would be again placed in his hands, without any apprehension that he would relapse into the same state? Or whether it can be believed that the lives and fortunes of so many million would be again entrusted to his will and power?" To these questions it may be replied:
(a) That if he was restored to his reason he had a right to the throne, and it might not have been a doubtful point whether he should be restored to it or not.
(b) It is probable that during that time a regency was appointed, and that there would be a hope entertained that he would be restored. Undoubtedly, during the continuation of this malady, the government would be, as was the case during the somewhat similar malady of George III of Great Britain, placed in the hands of others, and unless there was a revolution, or an usurpation, he would be, of course, restored to his throne on the recovery of his reason.
(c) To this it may be added, that he was a monarch who had been eminently successful in his conquests; who had done much to enlarge the limits of the empire, and to adorn the capital; and that much was to be apprehended from the character of his legal successor, Evil-Merodach (Hengstenberg, p. 113); and that if he were displaced, they who were then the chief officers of the nation had reason to suppose that, in accordance with Oriental usage on the accession of a new sovereign, they would lose their places.
(3) It has been asked also, as an objection, whether "it is not to be presumed that Nebuchadnezzar, on the supposition that he was restored from so fearful a malady, would have employed all the means in his power to suppress the knowledge of it; or whether, if any communication was made in regard to it, pains would not have been taken to give a coloring to the account by suppressing the real truth, and by attributing the affliction to some other cause?" - Bertholdt, p. 301. To this it may be replied:
(a) That if the representation here made of the cause of his malady is correct, that it was a Divine judgment on him for his pride, and that God's design in bringing it on him was that he himself might be made known, it is reasonable to presume that, on his restoration, there would be such a Divine influence on the mind of the monarch, as to lead him to make this proclamation, or this public recognition of the Most High;
(b) that the edict seems to have been made, not as a matter of policy, but under the fresh recollection of a restoration from so terrible a calamity;
(c) that Nebuchadnezzar seems to have been a man who had a conscience that prompted him to a decided acknowledgment of Divine interposition;
(d) that he had a strong religious propensity (compare Daniel. 3), and was ready to make any public acknowledgment of what he regarded as Divine; and
(e) that perhaps he supposed that, by stating the truth as it actually occurred, a better impression might be made than already existed in regard to the nature of the malady. It may have been an object, also, with him to convince his subjects that, although he had been deprived of his reason, he was now, in fact, restored to a sound mind.
(4) another ground of objection has been urged by Eichhorn, Bertholdt, and others, derived from the character of the edict. It is said that "the narrative represents Nebuchadnezzar at one time as an orthodox Jew, setting forth his views almost in the very words used in the writings of the Jews, and which only a Jew would employ (see Daniel 4:2-3, Daniel 4:34-37), and then again as a mere idolater, using the language which an idolater would employ, and still acknowledging the reality of idol gods, Daniel 4:8-9, Daniel 4:18." To this it may be replied, that this very circumstance is rather a confirmation of the truth of the account than otherwise. It is just such an account as we should suppose that a monarch, trained up in idolatry, and practicing it all his life, and yet suddenly, and in this impressive manner, made acquainted with the true God, would be likely to give. In an edict published by such a monarch, under such circumstances, it would be strange if there should be no betrayal of the fact that he had been a worshipper of pagan gods, nor would it be strange that when he disclosed his dream to Daniel, asking him to interpret it, and professing to believe that he was under the influence of inspiration from above, he should trace it to the gods in general, Daniel 4:8-9, Daniel 4:18.
And, in like manner, if the thing actually occurred, as is related, it would be certain that he would use such language in describing it as an "orthodox Jew" might use. It is to be remembered that he is represented as obtaining his view of what was meant by the vision from Daniel, and nothing is more probable than that he would use such language as Daniel would have suggested. It could not be supposed that one who had been an idolater all his life would soon efface from his mind all the impressions made by the habit of idolatry, so that no traces of it would appear in a proclamation on an occasion like this; nor could it be supposed that there would be no recognition of God as the true God. Nothing would be more natural than such an intermingling of false notions with the true. Indeed, there is in fact scarcely any circumstance in regard to this chapter that has more the air of authenticity, nor could there well be anything more probable in itself, than what is here stated.
It is just such an intermingling of truth with falsehood as we should expect in a mind trained in paganism; and yet this is a circumstance which would not be very likely to occur to one who attempted a forgery, or who endeavored to draw the character of a pagan monarch in such circumstances without authentic materials. If the edict was the work of a Jew, he would have been likely to represent its author without any remains of paganism in his mind: if it were the work of a pagan, there would have been no such recognition of the true God. If it is a mere fiction, the artifice is too refined to have been likely to occur, to attempt to draw him in this state of mind, where there was an intermingling of falsehood with truth; of the remains of all his old habits of thinking, with new and momentous truths that had just begun to dawn on his mind. The supposition that will best suit all the circumstances of the case, and be liable to the fewest objections, is, that the account is an unvarnished statement of what actually occurred. On the whole subject of the objections to this chapter, the reader may consult Hengstenberg, Die Authentie des Daniel, pp. 100-119. For many of the remarks here made, I am indebted to that work. Compare further see the notes at Daniel 4:25, following.
Section II. - Analysis of the Chapter
The chapter professes to be an edict published by Nebuchadnezzar after his recovery from a long period of insanity, which was brought upon him for his pride. The edict was promulgated with a view to lead men to acknowledge the true God. It states, in general, that the approach of his calamity was made known to him in a dream, which was interpreted by Daniel; that his own heart had been lifted up with pride in view of the splendid city which he had built; that the predicted malady came suddenly upon him, even while he was indulging in these proud reflections; that he was driven away from the abodes of men, a poor neglected maniac; that he again recovered his reason, and then his throne; and that the God who had thus humbled him, and again restored him, was the true God, and was worthy of universal adoration and praise. The edict, therefore, embraces the following parts:
I. The reason why it was promulgated - to show to all people, dwelling in all parts of the earth, the great things which the high God had done toward him, Daniel 4:1-3.
II. The statement of the fact that he had had a dream which greatly alarmed him, and which none of the Chaldean soothsayers had been able to interpret, Daniel 4:4-7.
III. The statement of the dream in full to Daniel, Daniel 4:8-18.
IV. The interpretation of the dream by Daniel - predicting the fact that he would become a maniac, and would be driven from his throne and kingdom, and compelled to take up his abode with the beasts of the field - a poor neglected outcast, Daniel 4:19-26.
V. The solemn and faithful counsel of Daniel to him to break off his sins, and to become a righteous man, if possibly the terrible calamity might be averted, Daniel 4:27.
VI. The fulfillment of the prediction of Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar was walking on his palace, and, in the pride of his heart, surveying the great city which he had built, and suddenly a voice from heaven addressed him, announcing that his kingdom had departed, and his reason left him, Daniel 4:28-33.
VII. At the end of the appointed time, his reason was restored, and he gratefully acknowledged the Divine sovereignty, and was again reinstated on his throne, Daniel 4:34-36.
VIII. For all this, he says that he praised the God of heaven, for he had learned that all his works are truth, and his ways judgment, and that those who walk in pride he is able to abase, Daniel 4:37.

Nebuchadnezzar, after having subdued all the neighboring countries, and greatly enriched and adorned his own, became so intoxicated with his prosperity, as to draw down upon himself a very remarkable judgment, of which this chapter gives a particular account, in the very words of the edict or proclamation which the Babylonish monarch issued on his restoration to the throne. This state document begins with Nebuchadnezzar's acknowledging the hand of God in his late malady, Daniel 4:1-3. It then gives an account of the dream of Nebuchadnezzar, which portended the loss of his kingdom and reason for seven years, on account of his pride and arrogance, Daniel 4:4-18. So it was explained by Daniel, Daniel 4:19-27, and so it was verified by the event, Daniel 4:28-33. It then recites how, at the end of the period fixed by the God of heaven for the duration of his malady, the Chaldean monarch became sensible of his dependence on the Supreme Being, and lifted up has eyes to heaven in devout acknowledgment of the sovereign majesty of the King of kings, the Ruler of the earth, whose dominion alone is universal, unchangeable, and everlasting, Daniel 4:34-37.

This chapter was written by Nebuchadnezzar himself; and was either taken out of his archives, or given by him to Daniel, who under divine inspiration inserted it into this work of his; and a very useful instruction it contains, showing the sovereignty of God over the greatest kings and potentates of the earth, and this acknowledged by one of the proudest monarchs that ever lived upon it. It begins with a preface, saluting all nations, and declaring the greatness and power of God, Daniel 4:1 then follows the narrative of a dream the king dreamed, which troubled him; upon which he called for his wise men to interpret it, but in vain; at length he told it to Daniel, Daniel 4:4, the dream itself; which being told, astonished Daniel, the king being so much interested in it, Daniel 4:10, the interpretation of it, with Daniel's advice upon it, is in Daniel 4:20 the fulfilment of it, time and occasion thereof, Daniel 4:28. Nebuchadnezzar's restoration to his reason and kingdom, for which he praises God, Daniel 4:34.

(v. 1-18) Nebuchadnezzar acknowledges the power of Jehovah.
(Daniel 4:19-27) Daniel interprets his dream.
(Daniel 4:28-37) The fulfilment of it.

Nebuchadnezzar's Dream and His Madness - Daniel 4:1-37 (3:31-4:34)
This section (Daniel 4) is in the form of a proclamation by king Nebuchadnezzar to all the peoples of his kingdom, informing them of a wonderful event in which the living God of heaven made Himself known as the ruler over the kingdoms of men. After a short introduction (Daniel 3:31-4:2 [Daniel 4:1-3]) the king makes known to his subjects, that amid the peaceful prosperity of his life he had dreamed a dream which filled him with disquietude, and which the wise men of Babylon could not interpret, until Daniel came, who was able to do so (Daniel 4:1-5 [Daniel 4:4-8]). In his dream he saw a great tree, with vast branches and bearing much fruit, which reached up to heaven, under which beasts and birds found a lodging, shelter, and food. Then a holy watcher came down from heaven and commanded the tree to be cut down, so that its roots only remained in the earth, but bound with iron and brass, till seven times shall pass, so that men may know the power of the Most High over the kingdoms of men (vv. 6-15 [Daniel 4:9-18]). Daniel interpreted to him this dream, that the tree represented the king himself, regarding whom it was resolved by Heaven that he should be driven forth from men and should live among the beasts till seven times should pass, and he should know that the Highest rules over the kingdoms of men (vv. 16-24 [Daniel 4:19-27]). After twelve months this dream began to be fulfilled, and Nebuchadnezzar fell into a state of madness, and became like a beast of the field (vv. 25-30 [Daniel 4:28-33]). But after the lapse of the appointed time his understanding returned to him, whereupon he was again restored to his kingdom and became exceeding great, and now praised and honoured the King of heaven (vv. 31-34 [Daniel 4:34-37]).
If the preceding history teaches how the Almighty God wonderfully protects His true worshippers against the enmity of the world-power, this narrative may be regarded as an actual confirmation of the truth that this same God can so humble the rulers of the world, if in presumptuous pride they boast of their might, as to constrain them to recognise Him as the Lord over the kings of the earth. Although this narrative contains no miracle contrary to the course of nature, but only records a divine judgment, bringing Nebuchadnezzar for a time into a state of madness, - a judgment announced beforehand in a dream, and happening according to the prediction, - yet Bleek, v. Leng., Hitz., and others have rejected its historical veracity, and have explained it as only an invention by which the Maccabean pseudo-Daniel threatens the haughty Antiochus Epiphanes with the vengeance of Heaven, which shall compel him to recognise One higher than himself, namely, the God of Israel. A proof of this assertion of theirs they find in the form of the narrative. The proclamation of Nebuchadnezzar to all the nations of his kingdom, in which the matter is set forth, shows, in its introduction and its close, greater familiarity with biblical thoughts than one would have expected in Nebuchadnezzar. The doxologies, Daniel 3:33 (Daniel 4:3) and Daniel 4:31 (Daniel 4:34), agree almost literally with Psalm 145:13; and in the praise of the omnipotence and of the infinite majesty of God, Daniel 4:32 (Daniel 4:35), the echoes of Isaiah 40:17; Isaiah 43:13, Isaiah 43:24, Isaiah 43:21 cannot fail to be recognised. The circumstance that in vv. 25-30 (Daniel 4:28-33) Nebuchadnezzar is spoken of in the third person, appears to warrant also the opinion that the writing was composed by some other person than by the king. But the use of the third person by Nebuchadnezzar in the verses named is fully explained from the contents of the passage (see Exposition), and neither justifies the conclusion that the author was a different person from the king, nor the supposition of Hv. that the vv. 26-30 (Daniel 4:29-33) are a passage parenthetically added by Daniel to the brief declaration of the edict, v. 25 (Daniel 4:28), for the purpose of explaining it and making the matter better understood by posterity. The circumstance that v. 31 (Daniel 4:34) refers to the statement of time in v. 26 (Daniel 4:29), and that the royal proclamation would be incomplete without vv. 26-30 (Daniel 4:29-33), leads to the opposite conclusion. The existence of these biblical thoughts, however, even though not sufficiently explained by the supposition that Nebuchadnezzar had heard these thoughts and words in a conference on the matter with Daniel, and had appropriated them to himself, cannot be adduced against the genuineness of the edict, but only shows this much, that in the composition of it Nebuchadnezzar had made use of the pen of Daniel, whereby the praise of God received a fuller expression than Nebuchadnezzar would have given to it. For in the whole narrative of the event the peculiar heathen conceptions of the Chaldean king so naturally present themselves before us, that beyond question we read the very words used by Nebuchadnezzar himself.
Then it has been found in the highest degree strange that Nebuchadnezzar himself should have published to his people an account of his madness, instead of doing all to make this sad history forgotten. But, notwithstanding that the views of the ancients regarding madness were different from ours, we must say, with Klief. and others, on the contrary, that "publicity in such a case was better than concealment; the matter, besides, being certainly known, could not be made either better or worse by being made public. Nebuchadnezzar wishes to publish, not his madness, but the help which God had imparted to him; and that he did this openly does honour indeed to his magnanimous character."
But the principal argument against the historical veracity of the occurrence is derived from the consideration that no mention is anywhere else made of he seven years' madness, an event which certainly could not but introduce very important changes and complications into the Babylonian kingdom. It is true that the Hebrew history does not at all refer to the later years of Nebuchadnezzar's reign, though it extends, Jeremiah 52:31, to a period later than these times, and should, without doubt, give as much prominence to such a divine judgment against this enemy as to the fate of Sennacherib (2-Kings 19:37) (Hitz.). But the brief notice, Jeremiah 52:31, that king Jehoiachin, thirty-seven years after his deportation, was delivered from prison by Evilmerodach when he became king, afforded no opportunity to speak of Nebuchadnezzar's madness, which for a time rendered him incapable of conducting the affairs of government, but did not cause his death. And the reference to the murder of Sennacherib proves nothing regarding it, because, according to the view of Jeremiah and the biblical historians, Nebuchadnezzar occupied an altogether different relation to the theocracy from that of Sennacherib. Nebuchadnezzar appeared not as an arch-enemy, but as the servant of Jehovah he executed the will of God against the sinful kingdom of Judah; Sennacherib, on the contrary, in daring insolence derided the God of Israel, and was punished for this by the annihilation of his host, and afterwards murdered by his own son, while Nebuchadnezzar was cured of his madness.
But when the opponents of the genuineness moreover argue that even the Chaldean historian Berosus can have announced nothing at all regarding Nebuchadnezzar's madness, since Josephus, and Origen, and Jerome, who were well-versed in books, could find nothing in any author which pointed to such an event, it is to be replied, in the first place, that the representations of seven years' duration of the madness, and of the serious complications which this malady must have brought on the Babylonian kingdom, are mere frivolous suppositions of the modern critics; for the text limits the duration of the malady only to seven times, by which we may understand seven months as well as seven years. The complications in the affairs of the kingdom were, moreover, prevented by an interim government. Then Hgstb. (Beitr. i. p. 101ff.), Hv., Del., and others, have rightly shown that not a single historical work of that period is extant, in which one could expect to find fuller information regarding the disease of Nebuchadnezzar, which is certainly very significant in sacred history, but which in no respect had any influence on the Babylonian kingdom. Herodotus, the father of history, did not know Nebuchadnezzar even by name, and seems to have had no information of his great exploits - e.g., of his great and important victory over the Egyptian host as Carchemish. Josephus names altogether only six authors in whose works mention is made of Nebuchadnezzar. But four of these authorities - viz.: The Annals of the Phoenicians, Philostratus, author of a Phoenician history, Megasthenes, and Diocles - are not here to be taken into account, because the first two contain only what relates to Phoenicia, the conquest of the land, and the siege of Tyre, the capital; while the other two, Megsth. in his Indian history, and Diocles in his Persian history, speak only quite incidentally of Nebuchadnezzar. There remain then, besides, only Berosus and Abydenus who have recorded the Chaldean history. But of Berosus, a priest of Belus at Babylon in the time of Alexander the Great, who had examined many and ancient documents, and is justly acknowledged to be a trustworthy historian, we possess only certain poor fragments of his Χαλδαι"κά quoted in the writings of Josephus, Eusebius, and later authors, no one of whom had read and extracted from the work of Berosus itself. Not only Eusebius, but, as M. v. Niebuhr has conclusively proved, Josephus also derived his account from Berosus only through the remains of the original preserved by Alexander Polyhistor, a contemporary of Sulla, a "tumultuous worker," whose abstract has no great security for accuracy, and still less for integrity, although he has not purposely falsified anything; cf. M. v. Niebuhr, Gesh. Assurs, p. 12f. Abydenus lived much later. He wrote apparently after Josephus, since the latter has made no use of him, and thus he was not so near the original sources as Berosus, and was, moreover, to judge of his fragments which are preserved by Eusebius and Syncellus, not so capable of making use of them, although one cannot pass sentence against the trustworthiness of the peculiar sources used by him, since the notices formed from them, notwithstanding their independent on Berosus, agree well with his statements; cf. M. v. Niebuhr, p. 15f.
But if Josephus did not himself read the work of Berosus, but only reported what he found in the extracts by Polyhistor, we need not wonder though he found nothing regarding Nebuchadnezzar's madness. And yet Josephus has preserved to us a notice from Berosus which points to the unusual malady by which Nebuchadnezzar was afflicted before his death, in the words, "Nabuchodonosor, after he had begun to build the fore-mentioned wall, fell sick and departed this life, when he had reigned forty-three years" (contra Apion, i. 20). In these words lies more than the simple remark, that Nebuchadnezzar, as is wont to happen to the most of men, died after an illness going before, and not suddenly, as Berth., Hitz., and others wish to interpret it. Berosus uses a formula of this kind in speaking neither of Nabonedus nor of Neriglissor, who both died, not suddenly, but a natural death. He remarks only, however, of Nebuchadnezzar's father: "Now it so fell out that he (his father Nabopolassar) fell into a distemper at this time, and died in the city of Babylon," because he had before stated regarding him, that on account of the infirmity of old age he had committed to his son the carrying on of the war against Egypt; and hence the words, "at that time he fell into a distemper," or the distemper which led to his death, acquire a particular significance.
(Note: When Hitzig adduces 2-Kings 13:14 in support of his view, he has failed to observe that in this place is narrated how the tidings of Elisha's sickness unto death gave occasion to the king Joash to visit the prophet, from whom he at that time received a significant prophetical announcement, and that thus this passage contains something quite different from the trivial notice merely that Elisha was sick previous to his death.)
If, accordingly, the "falling sick" pointed to an unusual affliction upon Nebuchadnezzar, so also the fact that Berosus adds to the statement of the distemper the account of his death, while on the contrary, according to this chapter, Nebuchadnezzar again recovered and reigned still longer, does not oppose the reference of the "distemper" to the king's madness; for according to Berosus, as well as according to Daniel, the malady fell upon Nebuchadnezzar in the later period of his reign, after he had not only carried on wars for the founding and establishment of his world-kingdom, but had also, for the most part at least, finished his splendid buildings. After his recovery down to the time of his death, he carried forward no other great work, regarding which Berosus is able to give any communication; it therefore only remained for him to mention the fact of his death, along with the statement of the duration of his reign. No one is able, therefore, to conclude from his summary statement, that Nebuchadnezzar died very soon after his recovery from the madness.
A yet more distinct trace of the event narrated in this chapter is found in Abydenus, in the fragments preserved by Euseb. in the Praepar. evang. ix. 41, and in the Chronic. Armen. ed. Aucher, i. p. 59, wherein Abydenus announces as a Chaldee tradition (λέγεται πρὸς Χαλδαίων), that Nebuchadnezzar, after the ending of his war in the farther west, mounted his royal tower, i.e., to the flat roof, and, there seized by some god (κατασχεθείη θεῷ ὅτεω δὴ), he oracularly (θεσπίσαι) announced to the Babylonians their inevitable subjugation by the Πέρσης ἡμίονος united with the Medes, who would be helped by their own Babylonian gods. He prayed that the Persian might be destroyed in the abyss of the sea, or condemned to wander about in a desert wilderness, inhabited only by wild beasts; and for himself he wished a peaceful death before these misfortunes should fall on the Chaldean empire. Immediately after this utterance Nebuchadnezzar was snatched away from the sight of men (παραχρῆμα ἠφάνιστο). In this Chaldean tradition Eusebius has recognised
(Note: In the Chron. Arm. p. 61, Eusebius has thus remarked, after recording the saying by Abyd.: "In Danielis sane historiis de Nabudhadonosoro narratur, quomodo et quo pacto mente captus fuerit: quod si Graecorum historici aut Chaldaei morbum tegunt et a Deo eum acceptum comminiscuntur, Deumque insaniam, quae in illum intravit, vel Daemonem quendam, qui in eum venerit, nominant, mirandum non est. Etenim hoc quidem illorum mos est, cuncta similia Deo adscribere, Deosque nominare Daemones.")
a disfigured tradition of this history; and even Bertholdt will not "deny that this strange saying is in its main parts identical with our Aramaic record." On the other hand, Hitz. knows nothing else to bring forward than that "the statement sounds so fabulous, that no historical substance can be discovered in it." But the historical substance lies in the occurrence which Daniel relates. As, according to Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar was on the roof of his palace when he was suddenly struck by God with madness, so also according to Abydenus he was ὡς ἀναβὰς ἐπὶ τὰ βασιλήΐα when seized by some god, or possessed. Here not only the time and the place of the occurrence agree, but also the circumstance that the king's being seized or bound was effected by some god, i.e., not by his own, but by a strange god. Not the less striking is the harmony in the curse which he prayed might fall on the Persian - "May he wander in the wilderness where no cities are, no human footstep, where wild beasts feed and the birds wander" - with the description of the abode of the king in his madness in Daniel 5:21 : "And he was driven from the sons of men; and his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild asses; and they fed him with grass like oxen." Moreover, though the designation of the Persian as ἡμίονος in Abyd. may not be formed from the ערדין of Daniel, but derived from old oracles regarding Cyrus diffused throughout the East, as Hv. (N. Krit. Unters. p. 53, under reference to Herod. i. 55, 91) regards as probable, then the harmony of the Chaldean tradition in Abyd. with the narrative in Daniel leaves no doubt that the fact announced by Daniel lies at the foundation of that tradition, but so changed as to be adapted to the mythic glorification of the hero who was celebrated, of whom Megasthenes says that he excelled Hercules in boldness and courage ( ̔Ηρακλέως ἀλκιμώτερον γεγονότα, in Euseb. Praep. ev. l.c.).
To represent the king's state of morbid psychical bondage and want of freedom as his being moved by God with the spirit of prophecy was natural, from the resemblance which the mantic inspiration in the gestures of the ecstasy showed to the μανία (cf. The combination of וּמתנבּא משׁגּה אישׁ, Jeremiah 29:26; 2-Kings 9:11); and in the madness which for a time withdrew the founder of the world-kingdom from the exercise of his sovereignty there might appear as not very remote to the Chaldeans, families with the study of portents and prodigies as pointing out the fate of men and of nations, an omen of the future overthrow of the world-power founded by him. As the powerful monarchy of Nebuchadnezzar was transferred to the Πέρσης ἡμίονος not a full generation (25-26 years) after the death of its founder, it might appear conformable to the national vanity of the Chaldeans to give the interpretation to the ominous experience of the great king, that the celebrated hero himself before his death - θεῷ ὅτεω δὴ κατάσχετος - had prophesied its fall, and had imprecated on the destroyer great evil, but had wished for himself a happy death before these disasters should come.
But even if there were no such traditional references to the occurrence mentioned in this chapter, yet would the supposition of its invention be excluded by its nature. Although it could be prophesied to Antiochus as an ̓Επιμανής (madman) that he would wholly lose his understanding, yet there remains, as even Hitz. is constrained to confess, the choice of just this form of the madness, the insania zoanthropica, a mystery in the solution of which even the acuteness of this critic is put to shame; so that he resorts to the foolish conjecture that the Maccabean Jew had fabricated the history out of the name נבוכדנצר, since נבוך means oberravit cum perturbatione, and כדן, to bind, fasten, while the representation of the king as a tree is derived from the passages Isaiah 14:12; Ezekiel 31:3. To this is to be added the fact, that the tendency attributed to the narrative does not at all fit the circumstances of the Maccabean times. With the general remark that the author wished to hold up as in a mirror before the eyes of Antiochus Epiphanes to what results haughty presumption against the Most High will lead, and how necessary it is penitentially to recognise His power and glory if he would not at length fall a victim to the severest judgments (Bleek), the object of the invention of so peculiar a malady becomes quite inconceivable. Hitzig therefore seeks to explain the tendency more particularly. "The transgressor Nebuchadnezzar, who for his haughtiness is punished with madness, is the type of that arrogant ̓Επιμανής, who also sought unsuitable society, as king degraded himself (Polyb. xxvi. 10), and yet had lately given forth a circular-letter of an altogether different character (1 Macc. 1:41ff.)."
"If in v. 28 (Daniel 4:31) the loss of the kingdom is placed before the view of Nebuchadnezzar (Antiochus Epiphanes), the passage appears to have been composed at a time when the Maccabees had already taken up arms, and gained the superiority (1 Macc. 2:42-48)." According to this, we must suppose that the author of this book, at a time when the Jews who adhered to their religion, under the leadership of Mattathias, marched throughout the land to put an end by the force of arms to the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes, had proposed to the cruel king the full restoration of his supremacy and the willing subjection of the Jews under his government, on the condition that he should recognise the omnipotence of their God. But how does such a proposal of peace agree with the war of the Jews led by Mattathias against the πׂδψσ, against the heathen and transgressors, whose horn (power) they suffer not to prosper (1 Macc. 2:47, 48)? How with the passionate address of the dying Mattathias, "Fear ye not the words of a sinful man (ἀνδρὸς ἁμαρτωλοῦ, i.e., Antiochus), for his glory shall be dung and worms" (v. 62)? And wherein then consists the resemblance between the Nebuchadnezzar of his chapter and Antiochus Epiphanes? - the latter, a despot who cherished a deadly hatred against the Jews who withstood him; the former, a prince who showed his good-will toward the Jews in the person of Daniel, who was held in high esteem by him. Or is Nebuchadnezzar, in the fact that he gloried in the erection of the great Babylon as the seat of his kingdom, and in that he was exhorted by Daniel to show compassion toward the poor and the oppressed (v. 24 [Daniel 4:27]), a type of Antiochus, "who sought improper society, and as king denied himself," i.e., according to Polybius as quoted by Hitzig, delighted in fellowship with the lower classes of society, and spent much treasure amongst the poor handicraftsmen with whom he consorted? Or is there seen in the circular-letter of Antiochus, "that in his whole kingdom all should be one people, and each must give up his own laws," any motive for the fabrication of the proclamation in which Nebuchadnezzar relates to all his people the signs and wonders which the most high God had done to him, and for which he praised the God of heaven?
And if we fix our attention, finally, on the relation of Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar, shall that prophet as the counsellor of the heathen king, who in true affection uttered the wish that the dream might be to them that hated him, and the interpretation thereof to his enemies (v. 16 [Daniel 4:19]), be regarded as a pattern to the Maccabees sacrificing all for the sake of their God, who wished for their deadly enemy Antiochus that his glory might sink into "dung and the worms?" Is it at all conceivable that a Maccabean Jew, zealous for the law of his fathers, could imagine that the celebrated ancient prophet Daniel would cherish so benevolent a wish toward the heathen Nebuchadnezzar, in order that by such an invention he might animate his contemporaries to stedfast perseverance in war against the ruthless tyrant Antiochus?
This total difference between the facts recorded in this chapter and the circumstances of the Maccabean times described in 1 Macc. 2:42-48, as Kranichfeld has fully shown, precludes any one, as he has correctly observed, "from speaking of a tendency delineated according to the original of the Maccabean times in the name of an exegesis favourable to historical investigation." The efforts of a hostile criticism will never succeed on scientific grounds in changing the historical matters of fact recorded in this chapter into a fiction constructed with a tendency.

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